Love—the Unexpected Byproduct of Prayer


Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. —Romans 15:30 NLT

A funny thing happens when you start seriously praying for someone. Your love for them grows exponentially. I know this from long experience with the phenomenon. It began years ago when a friend urged me to “pray blessing on the head of an enemy.” I confess that, on my own, I had not thought of this novel approach to enemies. My friend reminded me that Jesus was pretty clear that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. My persecution from this particular enemy fell into the very minor category, but still I found it hard to pray for her … at first. But as I prayed, a love for her began … and grew.

Since then, I’ve prayed for teachers who seemed unduly harsh, for a husband who disappointed me on some issue, and for many a friend who needed more of my time than I could give. In every single case, when I prayed with a passion and a purpose, my love grew. It’s amazing really. Yet, when you think about it, maybe not.

When we enter into the realm of prayer, led by the Spirit, we begin to see individuals as God sees them. We yearn for them to know Him and love Him. We want God’s best for them. We want their own wounds to be healed and their angry places to be filled with godly peace. God leads us on a journey of prayer with them that astounds. And, not just with our enemies. Love grows for each one we lift up to God in prayer—and prayer itself is to be an essential part of our lives.

As Paul ends his long and rich letter to the Christians in Rome, he urges them to pray for him. Just the fact that he’s begging for prayer ought to tell us that prayer matters. Paul walked very closely with God. Paul had, after all, met God personally in the person of Jesus Christ on that life-changing day on the road to Damascus. Paul had literally been caught up into something he called the “third heaven” and seen sights he wasn’t even allowed to share with us they were so wild and wonderful and beyond our comprehension. If Paul was begging for prayer, that tells me something pretty amazing happens when we pray that does not happen when we don’t. We need to pray.

Paul also tells us that when we pray for someone, we join with them in their struggles. We feel their pain as we bring their hurts to the Lord. Have you ever wept when you prayed for a dear one struggling? I have. As I bring their burden to the Lord, I feel it in a visceral way right before I lay it at His feet. That, too, makes me love the suffering one even more because God has allowed me to feel their pain for a moment. When the Christians of Paul’s day prayed for Paul, they literally struggled with him in his battle to overcome the enemy who wanted to sideline him. They struggled with him as he pleaded for boldness in sharing the gospel despite the threat of imprisonment, beatings, floggings, stoning, and probably death. And when they prayed, they loved Paul more by the power of the Holy Spirit. Which led, of course, to more prayer.

If you want to grow in your ability to love someone, pray for them. Pray, led by the Spirit for their good. Enter into their struggles and weep for them as you plead with God to help them. Pray if they are dearly loved already and pray if they are deeply resented. In all cases, as the Spirit helps you pray, and the unexpected byproduct of that prayer will be an increase in godly love for them. And, love beats bitterness every single time.

Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me this simple verse buried at the end of the book of Romans. It reminds me that prayer matters and that You call me to a life of prayer for the people around me. Use me. Use my prayers. Guide me as I pray, that I might bless and unleash Your power in someone’s life in ways beyond my ability to understand. I want to love more, so help me to pray more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

You are loved,




Sweet Selah Ministries

To inspire a movement away from the belief that “busy is better”
and toward the truth of God’s Word that stillness and knowing
Him matter most—and will be reflected in more effective work and service

To offer biblical resources and retreats that help women pause (Selah)
and love God more deeply as they know Him more intimately (Sweet)

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